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Islam and Human Rights ( 29 Jun 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Human Rights in Islam


By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

July 1, 2013



The best thing one can say about human rights is the right of humans to live, no other right is bigger or better than the right to life and this is what the Quran emphatically says twice in just one verse: first constructed negatively and then positively, doubly reminding us all, especially the Muslims, that every human life is precious. The Quran says:

“If anyone kills any human being (whether Muslim or non-Muslim)- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he has killed the whole of humanity. And if anyone saves any human being (whether Muslim or non-Muslim)- it would be as if he has saved the whole of humanity.” (5:32)

Omar Bakri said in BBC’s ‘Hard Talk’ that only Muslims are innocent in the eyes of God and those who are non-Muslims- they don’t deserve to live.1 So for him this verse (5:32) is restricted to a human being who is a Muslim and not to all humans in general. This is not only absurd but it also un-Islamic. This preacher is spreading his hate openly, and lakhs and lakhs of people listen to him and his misinterpreted lies about Islam (go to YouTube and type Omar Bakri).

First of all, every Semitic religion (i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam) says that we are the children of Adam and Eve. This makes us brothers and sisters in humanity- whether the person is a Hindu or a Muslims or a Christian or even an atheist- they are all my brothers. Secondly Bakri should broaden his definition of the term ‘Muslim’. I believe that for him Muslim is a person who keeps a beard, hates non-Muslims and has said the ‘shahada’ (proclaimed that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger). According to Wikipedia “Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "one who submits to God". 2

If we apply Bakri’s limited and ludicrous definition (according to my understanding of him) then Adam, Moses, Noah, Jesus (pbut) were not Muslims, contrary to what the Quran says, because they- although they may have kept beard- but they did not proclaim that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

In Islam the criteria for being higher in the sight of God is not wealth, caste, creed, colour or sex; it is God consciousness, it is piety, it is good deeds. As the Quran says:

“O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other and not that ye may despise each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous, God conscious of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (49:13)

Islam is not only against racism but practically shows how to remove racism. The Prophet said:

O people! Listen to this, your God is one and your forefather (Adam) is one. An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e., white tinged with red) person is not better than a black person a black person is not better than a red person, except by piety”3

Every day, five times, Muslims come together and stand on equal “footing”, shoulder to shoulder in front of Allah and pray to Allah, praise him, ask for His forgiveness, etc. According to Wikipedia, "Salahakba" (alāh) is an Arabic word whose basic meaning is "bowing, homage, worship, prayer". 4. While performing salah, just before ending, we say “peace and blessing of Allah be on the right side of me, peace and blessing of Allah be on the left side of me”. Every year during Hajj time, millions of people, dressed in 2 pieces of simple, unstitched cloth, come together and perform ‘Salah’. We cannot differentiate the people who are bowing along with us- whether the person beside me is a king or a beggar; at that time we are all beggars in front of Allah. Our most important part of the body- our forehead bows to the lowest level on the ground and we humbly say “Glory be to Allah, Most High”, three times.

The Quran gives rights to the non-Muslims also. God says:

“O you who have believed, when you move about in the cause of God, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you [a greeting of] peace, “You are not a believer,” aspiring for the goods of worldly life; for with God are many acquisitions. You [yourselves] were like that before; then God conferred His favour [i.e., guidance] upon you, so investigate. Indeed God is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.”(4:94)


“And unto thee [O Prophet] have We vouchsafed this divine writ, setting forth the truth, confirming the truth of whatever there still remains of earlier revelations and determining what is true therein. Judge, then, between the followers of earlier revelation in accordance with what God has bestowed from on high, and do not follow their errant views, forsaking the truth that has come unto thee. Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto, you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ.”(5:48)

 First Allah says to the believers that the believers should not discriminate against the unbelievers because the believers were just like them, until Allah bestowed His favours upon the believers. Similarly in the second instance, Allah says to every one of us that we have been appointed a different law or a code- so there is no need for one overarching set of rules imposed by the humans on his fellow-humans; because God Himself says “If your Lord so willed, everyone on earth would have believed. So will you then force people until they believe” (10:99).

 The Quran protects the orphans and it has given the right to life to women, as during those days a female child was buried alive. As regards these, Allah says:

“And give to the orphans their properties and do not substitute the defective of your own for the good of theirs. And do not consume their properties into your own. Indeed, that is ever a great sin.”(4:2)

 “When the sun is wrapped up in darkness and when the stars fall…and when the souls are paired and when the girl who was buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed…”(81:1-9)

Similarly the Quran preaches do deal justly and to end slavery:

 "O ye who believe! stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (5:8)"

 "God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers. (60:8)"

 "O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both..... (4:135)"


 "Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious;-  (4:36)"

 "It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.  (2:177)"

 Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari:  "The Prophet said, "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)."  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)"

According to Murad Hofmann:

“There is no essential contradiction between Islam and the Western human rights. On the contrary Islam is a complementary human rights system.”5


3 Narrated in Mosnad Ahmad, #22978.


5. Murad Hofmann, ‘Islam the Alternative’